I talk to a lot of adults about healthy eating while wearing braces. Every once in a while, someone says proudly, “When I had braces as a teen, I ate anything I wanted!!” That’s gotten me thinking (apart from being jealous) about how that could have really worked, and why it is or isn’t a problem now. What I’ve realized is that for people who had braces in the 60s and 70s, they all had the kind of braces where a band encircled the entire tooth (the kind that are still used today on the back molars and on teeth that have a crown).
I would imagine that a band that is cemented all around the tooth is pretty well stuck in place – it would take a lot to pry it loose by eating something hard or sticky. However, with today’s tiny brackets (I’m trying to find out when they started to be commonly used – anyone know?) that are cemented just to the front of a tooth, it’s not hard to see that one bite into the wrong (hard, sticky, crunchy, chewy) food could just pop it off. So, we continue to advise parents and teens (as well as adults in braces) that in spite of what experiences they may have heard about in the past, it’s a very good idea to eat foods that treat their braces tenderly.